File Number: Ost20/500P
Practitioner: Graham Edward Walker
Hearing Start Date:
Hearing End Date:
Sexual misconduct - indecent assault (Established)
Legislation – breach of Crimes Act 1961 (Established)
Interim order made under section 92A suppressing the name of the patient and any identifying details
Permanent order prohibiting the publication of the patient's name and any identifying details
Precis of Decision:
On 8 April 2021, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered a charge laid by a Professional Conduct Committee against Graham Edward Walker, registered Osteopath of Wellington (the Osteopath).
The charge was laid under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.
The charge alleged that the Osteopath was convicted of offences that either separately or cumulatively reflected adversely on his fitness to practise as an osteopath under section 101(1)(c) of the Act. On 18 May 2020 the Osteopath was convicted and sentenced in the District Court of two counts of indecent assault against a female patient.
A patient had consulted the Osteopath regarding a back injury and the patient attended a scheduled appointment on 8 August 2018. The treatment started as usual, but the Osteopath said that he wanted to try a new technique. The Osteopath inappropriately touched the patient’s genital area and breasts during the treatment.
The Osteopath denied the allegations when interviewed by police. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in the District Court but was found guilty by a jury and convicted.
The hearing proceeded via audio-visual link on an agreed summary of facts. The Osteopath admitted the charge and accepted that the convictions reflected adversely on his fitness to practise.
The Tribunal established that there were two convictions of an offence punishable by 3 months or longer. The Osteopath’s 2 convictions for indecent assault were punishable by a maximum of 7 years imprisonment.
The Tribunal found that the charge was proven and the offences reflected adversely on the Osteopath’s fitness to practise.
The convictions arose from conduct as an osteopath. The Tribunal held that a conviction for inappropriate touching of a patient during treatment must reflect adversely on the practitioner’s fitness to practise. A patient places an enormous amount of trust in the practitioner in consenting to such physical contact.
- Censured the Osteopath;
- Cancelled the Osteopath’s registration;
- Imposed conditions upon the Osteopath’s re-registration for a period of 3 years that he;
- Must not practice in sole practice as a registered health practitioner;
- Must accept supervision provided by another registered osteopath operating in the same practice;
- Ordered that the Osteopath pay 30% of the costs amounting to $6,988.86.
The Tribunal ordered permanent non-publication of the patient’s name.
The Tribunal directed publication of the decision on the Tribunal website and reference to the decision in the Osteopath Council’s next publication to its members.